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Looking at swords in Okayama prefecture
Osafune

During my holiday to Japan in November 2001 I visited the town of Osafune (Okayama prefecture) again.

From Okayama station I got a local train on the Ako line to Osafune.  It left from platform 14 at 1:17pm.

Sign

I arrived at Osafune at about 1:45pm and walked towards the museum.  On the way I got a bit geographically embarrassed (lost) and found some old graves that belonged to the bladesmiths.

Graves

I arrived at the museum at about 2:30pm.

Museum
This time the museum had an exhibition of titled "Bizen no Koto" (Old swords of Bizen prefecture).  The exhibition was on from 1th November until the 25th November.  The admission was 500 yen.

A total of 29 Nihonto were on display.  The pieces were not as "artistic" as the pieces displayed 2 years before, by that I mean that generally the temperlines were not as astounding,  but it was still a humbling experience considering the age and condition of the pieces.

Here are some examples:

This sword was made by Mitsumori in the 13th Century.  It could have been made last week by the look of it!
This is what fascinates me about Nihonto - They can be so old, yet so well preserved.  Note the 3 holes in the tang (2 have been filled).
The blade length of this unsigned katana is 69.3 cm.

Sword by Shigezane
This sword was made by Shigezane in the 14th Century.  The temperline showed various activities, but I was unable to get a good close up.  This sword was described as "Naginata naoshi katana" in the exhibition guide.  Note the very long point.
 The blade length of  this unsigned katana is 70.2 cm.

Bizen-Osafune Sword Museum
This sword was made by Nagamori in the 14th Century.  Note the even longer point!
The blade length of  this unsigned katana is 69.2 cm.
This sword was made by Masamitsu in the 14th Century.  The cross section of this blade was uno kubi zukuri, which means the slope from the ridge to the spine is very steep, before it returns to the more tradtional shape near the tang.  Note the 4 holes in the tang.  The blade length of  this unsigned katana is 66.1 cm.
Both the swords above were described as "Nagamaki naoshi katana" in the exhibition guide.
Also of interest there was a Naginata that was made by Harumitsu, Kunimitsu and Sukesada in 1532.

WORKSHOP

Open every 1st and 3rd Sunday at 11:00 and 1:00 this is a unique chance to see blades being made.
Unfortunately I missed the chance to see this.

Workshop Work in progress

On the way back to the station I took a few more photos to try and capture the "magic" that makes the town of Osafune such a special place.
Housing Old house
Across the open fields Furry grass

HOW TO GET THERE

Osafune is very accessible.  It is less than 30mins (27-28mins) from Okayama station (on the Shinkansen "Bullet Train" line).
Okayama is west of Osaka, with Himeji about half way.

Okayama to Osaka

Here is a closer map showing the railway line to Osafune.

Map of Okayama area

Finally a map of the town of Osafune and the location of the museum.

Map to museum
(Click for a larger image)

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This page was created Thursday 6th December 2001